Pediatric Surgery Education Using 3D Printing By: Bowen Griffith; Reviewed By Dr. Nancy Meehan

The Problem:Often when pediatric patients have complex conditions that require surgery, they do not understand what is going on. Some of this is contributed because they are not able to understand the complicated procedures through words. Children starting at age 4 can learn much better through therapeutic play and the use of hands-on teaching. This is why 3D printed objects can be very helpful.

Topic Development:It was very important to choose a condition that applies to most children, and requires surgical intervention that could be better explained with the use of a 3D model as a "toy." The use of therapeutic play, in this case, could increase knowledge, familiarity, and comfort with this unfamiliar event in the child's life.

I started the process of developing a better way of providing surgical education to pediatrics by brainstorming some common reasons for surgery in this population. The results came back, and it was decided to work with medulloblastoma. This is the most common malignant pediatric brain tumor, and one of the most common malignancies in children that require surgical intervention.

Model Development:Next, it was important for me to find a model or scan of a brain that I could use for the development of my model. I was able to find a brain scan that someone had put on the website, embodi3d.com, and was an actual scan of the provider's brain that he was giving for people to use.

This is the brain model that I was able to find online to work with. It was an exciting find because of the great quality and was compatible with SolidWorks, which I could use to change the model.

Prototype Development:After finding the brain 3D file, it was time to start working on the tumor. Through thinking about the ways that children learn best, I knew that I wanted an interactive, basic model that the child could play with. I started by making a hole in the cerebellum of the brain using SolidWorks and then created the tumor which would be a separate part that would fit into the hole similar to a puzzle.

I knew that I wanted to make it very easy for the child to differentiate the brain from the tumor, so I decided to utilize contrasting colors so that the child could better understand that the tumor did not belong where it was.

Features of the Design: The current design is small, which makes it work better for the pediatric patients that it is intended for. I was sure to make the tumor a different color from the rest of the brain so that it was easy for the child to see that it did not belong there. The tumor can fit into the brain and be taken out, so this will help to explain to the child what will occur during the procedure. It can be taken home and shown to family/friends.

Does this solve the problem? Yes, the prototype is a solution to the problem stated earlier. It works as a tool to aid in teaching a complex disease and treatment to a child. Through the use of this "toy", the nurse/provider can teach the patient at their knowledge level and give a hands-on option for teaching. At this age, some of the best learning is done through feeling and touch, as well as working through things on their own, which this prototype can help with.


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